May 2016 – While Lake Louise may be the heart of Banff National Park in Canada, Moraine Lake is its crown jewel. During our stay in this glorious part of the Canadian Rockies, we visited Moraine Lake several times.
If you do a Google search for Banff National Park and click on “Images,” almost every image is of Moraine Lake. It is such a beloved spot that the iconic view of the lake from the moraine rock pile on its northern shore was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill for ages.
For much of our stay in Lake Louise, the road to Moraine Lake was closed to motor vehicles. However, it was open to cyclists, and we enjoyed a fabulous 18 mile round trip bike ride to the lake and back.
The snow was still thick in certain areas, and Mark noticed someone had drawn a heart in the snow and put their initials in it. He made a slight modification to those initials so they would be “M + M.” Sweet!
The bike ride to Moraine Lake is very popular, especially in the pre-season when bikes have the entire road to themselves.
When we got to the lake we found hundreds of logs lying on the ground. Even though we were in cycling clothes, we scrambled all over the place on the shore to get photos and enjoy the views that were all ours for the moment.
The lake was extremely low. It was so low that a floating dock in front of the Moraine Lake Lodge was sitting on the ground.
Luckily, there was still plenty of lake to enjoy. I crawled up on the huge pile of rocks to get a bird’s eye view. Wow!!
Our bike ride to Moraine Lake was one we will never forget.
On the return trip from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise, after an initial climb, we had a fantastic, screaming descent. I was surprised to look on my bike computer afterwards and see I’d hit 40.5 mph. Not bad for just coasting on a mountain bike! (But not quite as zippy as when Mark and I hit 64.5 mph on our tandem descending a steep hill in Texas years ago!).
The road to Moraine Lake was finally opened to motor vehicles in the last week of May, and we drove up there early one morning to catch a sunrise.
The pink and orange hues of the mountain peaks reflected beautifully in the lake below.
As we were leaving, we noticed a nearly full moon between the peaks.
Moraine Lake deserves many return visits, and we couldn’t stay away.
Both cyclists and motor vehicles of all kinds drive up from Lake Louise all day long. It’s an okay road for a small RV, but I wouldn’t take anything much bigger than a short Class C because the parking lot at the lake gets crowded.
There is a terrific viewing area right next to the parking lot called the “Rock Pile.” When we had come by bike, we didn’t see it, and I had scrambled all over the slippery rock pile. But when we came by car, we saw the trail right by the bathrooms and joined the throngs of people that were walking on the easy and short paths and staircases in and around the rocks.
Everyone wants to see “The View” at Moraine Lake, and no wonder, it is gorgeous! But this is also a place where you can slip away from the crowd a bit, find a comfy seat on a rock, and take in other views around the lake.
We both savored our time at Moraine Lake, and I wandered away from the rim too.
I looked up and saw the crests of the mountains were filled with beautiful patterns.
We discovered the rock pile at the north end of the lake is filled with savvy little chipmunks. These guys are adorable little beggars (buggers) who are anything but shy.
Their main focus is seeing who’s got what kind of snacks to share. Sometimes they get lucky and can have lunch with a view.
The views at Moraine Lake drew us back again and again.
Even when the scenic overlook is filled with people who have turned their backs to the view while they worship the selfie god, it is still a spectacular place to be.
If you take your RV to Lake Louise, a visit to Moraine Lake is an absolute must.
In the pre-season, the car-free bike ride is truly exhilarating and you’ll find the lake very peaceful and quiet when you get there. But even in the busier season when the road and parking lot are loaded with cars, and people are crammed in everywhere, it is still a beautiful drive with utterly breathtaking views.
There’s more info about Moraine Lake in the links below…
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Here are some helpful links for the area:
- Moraine Lake Lodge
- Location of Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in Banff National Park (interactive Google Maps)
- RV Camping info for nearby Lake Louise
Other blog posts from our RV travels in Canada:
- Waterton Lakes Nat’l Park – Starry Skies, the Milky Way & Wildflowers
- Waterton Shoreline Cruise – A Classy Tour of Waterton-Glacier NP
- Waterton Lakes National Park – Rocky Mountain High!
- Kananaskis Country – Canadian Rockies Beauty Off the Beaten Path
- Canmore, Alberta – An Outdoor Lover’s Town in the Rocky Mountains
- Jasper National Park – Columbia Icefields & Athabasca Falls
- Hot Springs in the Canadian Rockies – Swimming in Giant Hot Tubs!!
- Banff, Alberta – A Grand Resort Town in the Canadian Rockies
- Yoho National Park – Emerald Lake & Natural Bridge – Aqua Magic!
- Icefields Parkway – True Blue Lakes, Avalanches & Grouse!
- Icefields Parkway – Canadian Rockies Scenic Drive – WOW!
- Lake Louise – RV Travels to the Heart of the Rockies in Banff
- Kootenay National Park Canada – Bears, Mountains & Rivers!
- Canadian Rockies – Big Mountains & Big Horn Sheep!
Tips for travelers visiting Canada by RV
Our RV travels in Canada
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